DUSSELDORF, GERMANY — Milacron Inc., one of the most aggressive pushers of the all-electric injection press, announced major changes to its own machine at the K'98 show.
``This is a clean-sheet design,'' David Bernardi, director of sales and marketing at Milacron's Elektron Technologies unit, said in Dusseldorf, as he pointed to the Powerline 330 at Milacron's busy K-show booth.
Milacron is moving in a new direction. Up until now, Milacron's Elektra line has been based on direct-current brushless motors that transferred power to the machine through a ball screw. At K, Milacron showed its new Powerline press — with an alternating-current motor and a rack-and-pinion clamp drive. Powerline presses will use roller screws to move other parts of the machine such as the injection unit and ejectors, according to Barr Klaus, technical director of Milacron's Elektron Technologies unit. The machines also will continue to use some ball screws, he said.
Milacron gradually will replace the Elektra machine design with Powerline. For now, Milacron will sell both types of machines.
Milacron introduced its Elektra line at NPE 1994. Before that, it sold all-electric Roboshot machines built in Japan by Fanuc Ltd., a relationship that continues today. Both those machines used DC drive. Now Milacron is moving to AC.
Speaking after the K show, Klaus downplayed the AC vs. DC issue. Instead, he pointed to another change: ``We've eliminated all analog sensors.'' Sensors on the Powerline are digital — electronic sensors that greatly improve accuracy, he said.
Klaus, a leading proponent of all-electric technology, said the changes are part of the natural evolution of all-electrics. ``We're continually infusing the latest technology in our flagship product,'' he said.
Milacron, like other all-electric purveyors in Dusseldorf, is trying to improve the speed of its machines. Milacron adopted the rack-and-pinion clamp drive from its German operation, Ferromatik Milacron, known for its high-speed presses. The double-toggle clamp mechanism remains unchanged from earlier models.
Drives — whether rack-and-pinion, or ball or roller screw —power the movements of a machine by transferring power from a motor into linear motion. ``The advantage of the rack-and-pinion drive is that it tremendously reduces the size of the rotating elements of the drive train,'' Klaus said. On Milacron's old ball-screw design, the clamp is driven by a belt turning around a large sprocket. Rack-and-pinion drives have less inertia, so they can start up, move to high speeds and slow down more quickly — important on fast cycles.
At K'98, the Powerline 330 was equipped with the new XTREEM controller, which allows operators to log into the Internet.
Powerline pricing information was not available. Milacron's Elektron Technologies group is based in Cincinnati.